Monday, March 31, 2014

Finger print day for the old folks

This is not for everyone, just the ones that want to receive their bi-monthly Government assistance deposit of 500 pesos. I say deposit because they deposit directly to a Banamex account that your special ATM card accesses. It's also for those over 65 or 70, I forget which. The reason they need to come in every six months is to make sure they are still alive. The finger printing and foto ID are the extra security measures.

So not long before we made the Secondary school run Lorena said that Maria had to go to this meeting today and no one else had the ability or time to spend most of the afternoon in Cihuatlan.   I dropped them off and went about accomplishing nothing for over an hour.   Mexico has streamlined a lot of bureaucratic things in the last few years but this is definitely not one of them.   This is a painful full day if you are lucky experience.   Maria got in the disabled line so only about 3 hours for her.  If you could stand all day you probably were asked to and may return tomorrow.

Maria's problem that she has been through before is she worked so long washing clothes by hand she has no prints on her fingers (huellas or huellas de dedos).   Today again they were smooth and she has to return tomorrow.   They resolved this 6 months ago somehow and  we hope they can do it again

Front of the Casa de Cultura

Side door

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Surrounded by Milo

It's that time of year for Milo or Sorghum growing. We always have some in our area around this time but almost every field is full of it this year.   The exception is our Gringo watermelon grower and the mango orchards. We were also surrounded by it in the Jocotepec area and I learned up there it's part of their usual crop rotation program.  I was surprised at the number of uses listed below but I like the popcorn idea.   Most used for cattle feed around here.

Sorghum is a coarse, upright growing grass that is used for both grain and forage production. Grain sorghum is shorter and has been bred for higher grain yields.
Grain sorghum is also called "milo" and is a major feed grain for cattle.
Sorghum has a very hard kernel, which makes it resistant to disease and damage but harder to digest for animals.
Sorghum is ground, cracked, steam flaked, and/or roasted. It can be cooked like rice, made into porridge, malted for beer, baked into flatbreads and popped like popcorn.
Sorghum originated in Egypt 4,000 years ago and today is Africa's second most important cereal. Africa now produces 20 million tons of sorghum per year, a third of the world total.
Sorghum has now become an important crop in Latin America as well. The crop has gained prominence in Mexico over the past half-century, and the number of hectares of sorghum planted in the country grew over 1,000 percent from 1958 to 1980. Mexico has large areas of dry farmland, and sorghum requires less water than maize and wheat.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A work in progress

Linda, my neighbor from Canada has painted a lot of plant designs on her garden walls and has tempted me to do something on my palapa wall. Her's are all palms or a few broad leaf tropical plants. I need to get a foto to pass along the idea. She was able to use shadows .... but I have no plants under my palapa for shadow or outline. She and I ended up holding a palm frond up against the wall and outlining with a pencil.

So Linda did the one on the right and me on the left yesterday.   I played with sky, bamboo and flowers today.   Totally new for me and with more white paint I can cover over anything..    The original arch looked like I should create a Virgin de Guadalupe shrine below it but I don't know her.   Really think I need another color or two beyond green and blue.   With more white ... it can be painted again.   Just like Graffiti 

The added work in progress was Nahima (our 3 year old neighbor) wanted to sit on our toilet and insisted for 20+ minutes.   She eventually headed home with her sister under protest and we assumed just another 3 year old stage.  She will be just as crazy/independent tomorrow .............

Yesterday palms only

Fillers, sky, bamboo and flowers

Nahima not on the "tazo de bano"

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring parades for the little kids

Last week was the spring parade time, known here as the Desfile de Primavera. Most were held yesterday, Friday, but a few earlier in the week. Normally it's for kindergarten kids but occasionally younger ones get involved. The idea is they dress up like all things Spring, birds, butterflies, rabbits and other small animals. The exceptions are the Queens that most of the girls want to be. Our community of Pinal Villa had two parades, one in the morning for the Kinder and one around 5pm for little kids. Just takes a hand full of moms that want to dress up the kids and have a parade.

Kinder parade with kids in cars

Little kids parade banner

Nahima - Queen of sweets

Another Queen

No cars - just bikes and carritos

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Water fix, sugarcane falls and the stars

So much to do and so little time around the house.   Just kidding

I've been watching this water leak for a few months. I thought a leak and others thought just from a drip from the filters above.  It finally had a little stream of water even if ever so slightly.   The ground here swallows water very fast so very easy to miss a small leak.  I vaguely remember the ridged black pipe we were using was just a little short and not flexible for a turn like this.   It lasted a couple years but eventually decided to disconnect. May have been effected (was effected) by settling under the water spout.  

A two day project and more digging than I want.   Had to decide on the flexible hose to make that connection because the rigid black pipe is not flexible and basically brain dead.  20 pesos a meter for the clear stuff, very flexible and as strong as the black stuff.  The weak part are the hose clamps that corrode and become useless. Have a soldered copper solution before or after you install. 

Heard it earlier today but didn't see the sugar cane fall on my banana plant.   Almost time for the sugar cane to go and the banana is OK for awhile

Finally found that my cheap camera on AUTO will try to light adjust and do a time lapse of the stars.   No way can hold steady for 2 seconds or more .... so what these were I don't know.

Google Earth view of my repair 

Cane on my banana

Looking up at Google Earth Sat

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gimme a new kitchen faucet

I don't remember the time table involved but the old faucet was something else Shoe left behind. I decided to use it but bought a new one at Home Depot somewhere along the line. The old one never gave me any trouble so the new one sat on a shelf in the bodega for over a year. The Mr. Clean in me took a closer look the other day and it was looking bad. Partly due to the old faucet is plated - not solid, partly due to the hard water and due to the base gasket not fitting well. I was concerned about the sink and not just the faucet or the look.

After cleaning the cob webs so I could see the cold water nut under the sink was a breeze.  The hot water nut took about an hour to get off and there wasn't much left when I was through.   My neighbor might have powered it off by hand but I'm not that strong any more. So with a sharp scraper and a plastic "steel wool" the sink cleaned up nicely.   New handles are nicer and the faucet is a little higher .... and it's clean.  Nothing the matter with the old one and neighbors may want it.  They say theirs leaks.   We'll see.

The original

Underneath and broken fasten nut

Almost like new

New faucet

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Master electrician NOT

Been using a pedestal fan under the palapa for the last year or so but really wanted to buy a new ceiling fan. The pedestal fan was always in the way and getting knocked over by the dog. The only light in the palapa was a bulb on an extension cord. The fan I wanted with the light and aluminum blades cost a little over a 1000 pesos now and then there is the wire, switches, conduit and the work of installing it. I finally decided that that fan was in my bodega and hardly ever being used. Why not steal it and use a pedestal fan in the bodega when I need it and where there is no crazy traffic.

So the easy part was making the mounting cross piece and securing the fan so it wouldn't wobble or jump around.   Also running and fastening the green conduit and running wire through.   Even mounting the one switch and finally two wasn't a problem.  What was a puzzle was getting the electricity running where it should be. I finally gave up on the dimmer switch doing it all because the rheostat (volume control) is going to wear out if it's also off and on and speed adjust.   Separate wall switch was the best idea but the light and fan were sharing the current.   Full speed fan and no light ... having only the light made the fan rotate very slowly. Had to be they were connected in parallel sharing a limited current.  Finally a separate power and ground is what worked. Still not totally convinced I know what is going on with only 3 wires to fan motor and light. Glad I had no schedule to meet.

Copacabana fan with light

Bought wire, breaker and switch from the new gringo
electric store - Costalegre Electrica 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Carritos, comida and Castillo

This will be my last evening in town during the San Patricio festival. We just picked last night as one that would not be too crazy with the amount of people and it was OK. Next week is Benito Juarez's birthday so this weekend is a 3 day "puente" and there will be many people in town.

I'll be witness to the number of tourists headed our way for the 3 day weekend as I was headed to Manzanillo for the 4th time to cancel my Telcel contract that they have told me twice before was canceled. It's just sad to say that the people that work at Telcel don't really care enough to make sure YOU - THE CUSTOMER understand what they are requiring.    Telcel service is generally acceptable and Telcel customer service sucks big time !!!

Finally stopped

Tacos Pedro on Taco Row - nothing special

The same three pinwheels were the whole show

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pre-hispanic artifacts from the Costalegre

A nice little restaurant in Barra de Navidad recently posted on the local message board that a local artifact collector would have a showing at their restaurant for one day (yesterday). No one showed any interest on the message board which surprised me and not a crowd at the restaurant when we dropped by. The collector (sorry don't have his name) said he only bring out the collection a couple times a year so if you see a notice don't wait around.

This stuff is really museum quality if there was a story to go along with it and of course a museum to put it in. Maybe the pre-Hispanic history is just too vague for this area.   You would think the history here is similar to Colima and the rest of the Jalisco coast ..... hmmmm?   Anyway, here's a couple fotos

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fiesta San Patricio

Fiesta San Patricio officially started a few days ago and we went the first day because the kids wanted to go on the rides and we wanted to see what was new. The only thing really new is the carnival equipment is newer, larger and more expensive this year. It even spills into the adjoining street behind OXXO. Fiesta San Patricio lasts about 10-12 days but the carnival rides will be here through Semana Santa.

We parked on the corner of the plaza early and after 3 hours the car was in the middle of a traffic and people jam.   Decided to make our escape early before we were totally trapped.  We'll go again tomorrow night to see the castillo fireworks between 11 and 12.   Thursdays usually have less people and we'll park by the highway to avoid traffic.

Big Ferris Wheel (Noria ?)

Little Ferris Wheel

The crowd in the plaza

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Slim Pickens

And Slim be doin' the picken

I haven't been the biggest fan of Telcel for the last three years but since we have no Telmex phone or Internet service in our little community there aren't any other options.   I've come to realize a CEL phone is the way to go for flexibility but you need the right "plan" and the right phone.   I was taken in with the free IPhone if you pay upfront.  Also taken with the thought of Internet on the run.   Problem is I can't stand Internet on something as small as a phone so a smart phone 1/2 or 1/3 the price would have worked just fine .... and NOT Apple.

My first cheap Nokia died within months and Telcel said humidity voided the warranty.   Second cheap Nokia they gave me a Manzanillo prefix so my time flew off the phone.   Gift to neighbors.

Thinking I needed a real phone I was prepped to spend way more than I needed.  I guess being cool and up-to-date was part of it. So my free phone was an Iphone 3s when the model 4's had been out for about a year.   I didn't know the difference and Telcel was clearing their inventory.   The contract was for 2 years and within 6 months I knew I was wasting money on the extras.  Patiently, patiently I waited until last November when my bill jumped from 500 pesos to 1500.  Figured out that upgrading the Apple IOS turned everything Internet on and was on 24/7.  Not Telcel's fault but proof I did not need an Internet phone.   Finally was able to cancel in December at the end of 2 years with a very expensive final bill.

So about a week ago I received my bills via Email expecting only for this modem .... and sure enough there was my phone bill for January and February to the tune of 1000+ pesos.    Another trip to Telcel in Manzanillo and was told even though I had paid and canceled I was missing another piece of paper which I was never told about.  They also said I was using the phone in February for something but I had thrown the old SIM card away in January and bought a new Amigo - pay as you go plan.   Finally when asking for a supervisor the clerk changed her mind and I have another piece of paper that may be the official thing ???   Just checked my online account and it's still there ??

Also while trying to handle this by phone instead of another Manzanillo trip ..... the 800# only talking to help desk personnel charged my phone almost 40 pesos.   Slim is a pickin'    !!!! 
The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

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